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Culture & Literature
The Paris Review

The Paris Review Winter 2019

The Paris Review publishes the best fiction, poetry, art, and essays from new and established voices, and the Writers at Work interviews offer some of the most revealing self-portraits in literature.

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United States
The Paris Review Foundation, Inc.
4 Issues

in this issue

27 min.
the nanny

EMMA CLINE There isn’t much in the house,” Mary said. “I’m sorry.” Kayla looked around, shrugged. “I’m not even that hungry.” Mary set the table, bright Fiestaware on place mats alongside fringed cloth napkins. They ate microwave pizzas. “Gotta have something a little fresh,” Mary’s boyfriend, Dennis, said cheerily, heaping spinach leaves from a plastic bin onto his pizza. He seemed pleased by his ingenuity. Kayla ate the spinach, took a few bites of crust. Mary poured her more water. When Kayla asked for a beer, she saw Mary and Dennis glance at each other. “Sure, sweetie,” Mary said. “Dennis, do we have any beer? Maybe check the garage refrigerator?” Kayla drank two over dinner, then a third out on the porch, her legs tucked up into the oversize hoodie she had taken from Mary’s son’s room.…

1 min.
two poems by tomas unger

THE PIANIST When my right hand—When the hand that had been mine—When I found that handcurling inward stayedcurled protestations meant nothing; prayers.Thinking, not thinking—nothing. But there was a literaturefor the left hand, there was someone before—his arm blown off in the war. And what was over was notwhat I thought was over— from the beginning, my relation had beento music, not myself the player— Incurable, desirethat survives as devotionno disfigurement can cure. I became a teacher. Hand placed over—Sometimes I place my hand overthe hand of the player very gently or forcefully, in sympathy. LATE SELF Rembrandt, 63 The surprise alwayssomething has not abandoned us, the way, standing there, another’s expression as you realizehas become yours— Self given, self seen— Suffering composing itself is compassion.…

3 min.
jeffrey yang

ANCESTORS Chance progression Genomic drift Split-apart generationsof the uprooted tree abandoned the tablets for another ethos Ancestors never spoke of our ancestors watching over throughthe great-great-void behind the incense and flowers brought us here In this quiet roomto learn from the old and make the new Hakgojae 學古齋 Gallery, east of the JoseonPalace of Shining Happiness young and old stroll in hanbok cosplayunder full autumn sun coco capitán mirrors herself outside west gate filee inks the stillness rite on a Buamdong hill siren eun young jung channels the yeosonggukgeuk with anomalous fantasies her reinventions of the forgotten 1950s women’s theater, lostmemories performed through dance and song, her impulse Hakgojae a practice of living artas a dream of a living presence Drawn into the wood across the sea of stone one approaches as if to recognizethe unexpected spark and hesitationunderground double-track spotlightson the five wood figures, octagon universe They look out from the ghostly grainof the tall tablet…

26 min.
failure to thrive

WILLA C. RICHARDS Alice read John Mark’s letter, her eyes narrowed, as I paced our tiny apartment. The envelope contained instructions for retrieving two sets of human remains from the University of Florida. I sometimes worked for John Mark, the director of the Milwaukee Public Museum, in exchange for modest paychecks and access to the museum’s research collection. I often did the jobs the museum interns refused to do, like retrieving artifacts originally accessioned by the MPM from other institutions and bringing them back to Milwaukee. I hadn’t taken one of these jobs since before Tess was born, afraid to leave her or Alice, but we were so poor we had begun to eat only the casseroles Alice’s mother sent over in weekly batches. Alice tossed the letter on the coffee table.…

56 min.
the art of fiction no. 245

GEORGE SAUNDERS My first meeting with George Saunders took place in his home of ten years, a ranch house in the Catskills. The house stood on fifteen acres of hilly woods, crisscrossed by narrow paths that he and his wife, the novelist Paula Saunders, had cleared over many afternoons, following mornings spent writing. The Saunderses had lived in upstate New York for three decades; they raised their two daughters in Rochester and Syracuse, two of the region’s Rust Belt cities, and Saunders’s first three story collections, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996), Pastoralia (2000), and In Persuasion Nation (2006), are marked by the experience of bringing up children and holding down jobs in a postindustrial economy. But the stories aren’t constrained by the conventions of gritty realism. There are ghosts, zombies, prosthetic foreheads,…

1 min.
two poems by aaron poochigian

THE CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS Off in a huff, I missed, almost, the moral of a dancer, the Eve of all such, ever, how she could hover concentric, how a firm but flexible expert in form can work miracles, foil awhile the drag and fall. I missed, almost, how much she must have ached, how late, to win her flight through skill and school to mastery’s mysteries. THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY In zigzagging overhead cablesstrung with ornaments,in trash, in residual playbillsfor holiday events,in rain and the silver unsplendidghost of a winter sun,sorrow for something ended. Pack it up, boys; we’re done. A truck has crushed a kazoo;there’s barf on a stenciled pane;confetti is eddying througha gutter and down the drain.And, damn, that plastic hollywreath on a real gum boughreeks of melancholy. Good times have died. What now? No calendar should includea box for this vacuous lapse,no author preserve its mood.Someday, of course, perhapsall we…